At the ripe old age of 21, Canuck actor Michael Cera is awfully young to be typecast. Yet Cera is so dependably charming — and convincing — playing nerdy, virginal dweebs that it's tempting to cut him, and his apparently unimaginative management team, some slack. On TV's Arrested Development and in movies like Superbad, Juno and Nick and Norah's Ultimate Playlist, Cera has pretty much cornered the market on hormonal, socially maladroit teenage boys.
Nick Twisp, the perpetually priapic teen Cera plays in Youth in Revolt, will seem awfully familiar to fans of his zit-riddled oeuvre. While on a family vacation in Ukiah, California, Nick meets jaded, decidedly non-virginal hipster chick Sheeni (Portia Doubleday). The two bond over their mutual boho tastes and disdain of parents. After returning home, Nick devises what he thinks is a foolproof plan to get his mom (Jean Smart) to let him return to Ukiah (and Sheeni).
One of the most amusing features is the alter ego Nick adapts in his bid for emancipation. Gallic-accented Francois Dillinger is a real hoot (and a nice stretch for Cera, who seems to be having a ball playing a bad boy), as well as an extremely bad influence on poor Nick. Arson and grand theft auto are just a few of the crimes he gets talked into committing by tres debonair Francois.
Adapted by Charlie Bartlett scenarist Gustin Nash from the first three books in C.D. Payne's six-tome series, Youth in Revolt: The Journals of Nick Twisp, the film does a nice job of making Nick thoroughly likable, even relatable, throughout. If some of the character nuances get lost in translation, it's still a damn sight better than the hatchet job Peter Jackson performed on Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones.
Better known for edgier fare like Chuck and Buck and The Good Girl, director Miguel Arteta maintains a fairly brisk pace throughout, despite the material's built-in episodic structure. And the terrific supporting cast (including such reliable comedy heavy-hitters as Steve Buscemi, Zach Galifianakis and Fred Willard) make it easy to overlook the movie's occasional flaws.